By Corey Moss

The Personalization Factor

#AVintheAM on Twitter

Chris Neto brought a very good statement/question to the table, addressed very well by many involved. There are those #AVintheAM conversations that I find to be pretty good, this one in particular was an excellent one. I’ve always considered personalization in the way I do things, beginning in the industry when I was a Sr. Account Manager in commercial integration sales. Experiences, as we’re all talking about these days must be personalized or else they’re not really experiences at all, they just become outcomes.

Now that’s not to say that we don’t focus on outcomes, however imagine if you will a person attends a concert and has a vision of the performance even before entering the arena – and gets just that envisioned experience upon getting up from their seat to leave? I know it’s happened for me.

Vision Statement 

I’ve said of late that integration these days needs to rely on a vision factor – call it a vision statement prepared along with the Statement of Work (SOW) from the needs analysis, current and future. There can also be certain details, outlined well by Steven Picanza, Global Brand Strategist at Latin & Code in his blog Importance of Having a Solid SOW for Creatives and Entrepreneurs, about having a clear cut SOW to refer back to, even precautionary to such things as not satisfying the clients requests and scope creep. It was based on one of his personal experiences, and I’ll be detailing one of mine below as well.

Where I started here referring to the personalization factor, there is always a vision wherein the experience is essentially personalized – as is the customer’s want according to the tweet above. Too many times there are those who see fit to design the room without the customer’s true input, along with their vision of it (and more) for the future. I would ask customers about their vision of “the room” whatever type it would be – boardroom, auditorium, etc. – and with a proper needs analysis (along with required walkthrough and more), work from there.

They could even be huddle rooms, maybe not too much to an individual room design, however it could be for a nationwide or worldwide enterprise, or for a large corporate campus that could have such requirements for them as they continue to build into the future.

Corporations and organizations put together vision statements regularly, one which uniquely identifies them to others, as well as to their own employees. Here is Amazon’s (along with their Mission Statement).

Why shouldn’t such a unique approach apply to the customer here as every install  (except for those that are purpose-built to resemble already existing ones) should take on a uniqueness of its own to match the customer’s needs and vision. Do you talk with customers in terms of such a vision statement? I’d say if you do, you probably have set up advantage to a strong ongoing relationship.

SOW, not WOW

I was challenged recently in terms of the SOW, where it really needs to be about a WOW (not an acronym, that’s the word wow) to be proper for the customer now. I beg to differ, if you’re not following the letter of the statement of work that’s presented to the client (as boring and usual as that might seem…), you’ve failed the objective. I was even told that the SOW could even potentially be improper – my reply is if that’s the case, how would anyone ethically claim to be able to leave the customer with any kind of satisfaction if the system they are paying to have installed was detailed, and potentially even designed improperly? Does WOW actually compensate for an improper SOW, and beyond that the installation itself?

I sometimes refer to an installation of mine that went south in a hurry, due to the installers – tech knowledgeable as they were – who went to the job without knowledge of the SOW (I always prepared them) – or the room layout! Let’s just say the first call from my customer (a new one that I worked long and hard to get) was in essence get your butt down here and fix this – yep, me the account manager having to point out all equipment and interface plates to be installed in the room, as the customer did the slow burn in front of me. Should have been project management taking that one for the team here, right?

The call after job completion (done to a SOW tee of course) was we won’t be needing your services anymore. Sad, they were a potential great client, and all the WOW factors in the world probably wouldn’t have saved them. They wanted what they were expecting from the start, and they didn’t quite get it (imagine – showing up on site ready to go at the specified day and time being one of them…?). That can make for an immediate former customer in my book.

And in talking about the “experience” it was a rough one from install start for them. Again, WOW factors don’t resolve this in the least — they want R-E-S-U-L-T-S, period.

Here’s an excellent statement from Steven’s blog:

Good SOW’s leave no room for error or misinterpretation and they are often the difference between making bank, or losing your business altogether.

Refer back to the personalization factor here, the customer’s “want” – and it doesn’t mean surprise them in the end with a laser light show, it means deliver the system that was established from the start with their (hopefully) recognized requirements in mind. This industry is fixed on selling WOW these days, so much so I believe it’s losing sight of what’s most important – the client’s real needs. There are those who focus on the customer very well, and there are those who are getting sucked into this WOW factor void.

I still hear too many stories of install fails, and just maybe some of them now are due to this so-called need for this WOW factor (although there’s still the old garbage “workaround” of course). It’s like the room needs to light up like a disco ball, and I just about guarantee there will be no dancing — unless it’s in a nightclub.

A SOW is a SOW – a document routinely employed in the field of project management as defined, no matter which market you’re referring to. And there’s nothing routine about the project it applies to.

Technology and vision, potentially creating some wow too

I had an AV Talk+ podcast conversation with Keith Yanke, Sr. Director Product Marketing at NEC Display Solutions about their projection mapping application displayed at InfoComm (and DSE as well), part of which applied to projection mapping application in a corporate environment. For those who visited with NEC Display Solutions at either show, you’ll know the application applied to retail projecting onto sneakers and basketballs. I brought up conversation at InfoComm about corporate application too as I had readily envisioned it.

NEC projection mapping InfoComm 18

Here is the podcast.

Sure, making people go wow is a terrific outcome as it likely would be here, but it shouldn’t affect a project’s scope, design, or implementation unless it’s a possible intention of the client’s vision recognized at the start. Just one job, as I pointed out, where the installers arrive onsite without all of the necessities can spell doom (even if they’re very good like our guys were) – which all the WOWs in the world won’t remedy. Does it embarrass me to tell that story? Nope, all my i’s were dotted and t’s crossed. But project management sure was…

Hard work to gain a customer, easy to lose them.

Results – according to needs, and vision. WOW is never a replacement for an excellent outcome and experience – one which I consider a plausible argument, with the potential to be further challenged of course.

Though it does make perfect sense to me.

Me at Barco.png

With over 20 years in audio visual integration and IT/computer sales and consulting, Corey Moss is the owner of Convergent AV. Corey writes for the publication and hosts/produces podcasts – The AV Life, Convergent Tech Talk and Convergent Week. He has written for numerous industry publications about AV, IT, unified communications and collaboration (UCC), cloud and software, IoT, cybersecurity and more. He has also conducted interviews with AV and IT executives and global influencers. Find him talking about a whole lot of things, tech and otherwise. On LinkedIn